Giants-Athletics Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated June 21, 2012
The Oakland Athletics didn't get down on themselves earlier this month when they were struggling, and now they're playing their best baseball of the season. San Francisco right-hander Tim Lincecum is at a low point now, and it's uncertain when the two-time NL Cy Young winner will end the worst stretch of his career. The surging A's go for a seventh consecutive home win over San Francisco on Friday night when the Bay Bridge Series continues. A season-worst nine games below .500 on June 10 following a 4-14 skid, Oakland (34-36) has since won eight of nine. The A's are nine games back of AL West-leading Texas, but they've won three straight series for the first time since September 2010. "At the time (we were struggling), our attitude as a team when we were going through it was, 'Lets' stick with it. Things will turn around.' And they did," third baseman Brandon Inge told the A's official website after Yoenis Cespedes' walk-off three-run shot in Thursday's 4-1 home win over the NL-leading Los Angeles Dodgers. "Now you don't get too high, just like you don't get too low." Things can't get much worse for Lincecum (2-8, 6.19 ERA), who is 0-6 with a 6.44 ERA in 10 starts since his last victory April 28 against San Diego. "I know he's taking it hard,'' manager Bruce Bochy said after the right-hander surrendered five runs in five-plus innings of Saturday's 7-4 loss at Seattle. Lincecum needed 90 pitches to get through four innings of a 6-2 defeat May 20 that ended San Francisco's 11-game home winning streak versus Oakland. The Giants won two of three last month against the A's, but they're winless across the bay since a 6-3 victory June 24, 2009. Right-hander Jarrod Parker (3-3, 2.82) will try to extend San Francisco's struggles at the Coliseum while helping Oakland match a season high with a fourth consecutive home win. With the club limiting his innings after he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2009, Parker gets the ball for the first time since throwing seven shutout innings of an 8-2 road win over Colorado on June 14. "We are very careful with him," manager Bob Melvin told the A's official website of the decision to switch Parker and Travis Blackley in the rotation Thursday. Parker should be careful pitching to Melky Cabrera, the majors' hit leader with 101, who went 8 for 11 with a double in last month's series against Oakland. Cabrera had one of the four hits off Parker on May 18 when the right-hander was pulled after giving up six runs in two-plus innings of an 8-6 loss. Cespedes missed that series at AT&T Park with a strained left hand, and he could DH for these three games as he's only been back two since returning from a hamstring injury. Recent call-up Brandon Moss, batting .333 with team highs of six homers and 11 RBIs during the A's 8-1 run, will get his first look at Giants pitching in three years. He is 1 for 5 against Lincecum. Left fielder Seth Smith is 9 for 30 with three homers and two doubles off the right-hander. Giants first baseman Brandon Belt is batting .414 (12 for 29) with three homers and seven RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak, but he has no RBIs in the last six contests. All three of San Francisco's shutout losses in 2012 have come in the last 12 games. The Giants batted .184 and scored five total runs in their last visit to Oakland from June 17-19, 2011.
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